The 2012 Mongolia Bike Challenge presented by Orbea is already well underway. The first day began in the capital of Ulaanbaatar where riders battled heavy rains in the 119km stage. Team Kona rode to victory atop WTB saddles with Cory Wallace finishing first in 3hrs 22mins, 45 seconds ahead of teammates Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (second and fourth respectively) as well as Pau Zamora Perez (Team Buff International) in third. The four rode together for much of the stage, establishing a commanding lead of over 17 minutes to 5th place finisher Carter Hovey (Team MBC Racing powered by Orbea-SMP).
Meanwhile, Chiru-WTB riders Marcel Hagner and Mohamad Razif finished strong in ninth & 11th.
The day's 120 kilometer course featured rolling grasslands with a number of significant climbs which led to epic green valleys dotted with nomadic herders and their ger (yurt) homesteads. A large front group was established early made up of 15 riders. The pack was whittled down to eight riders by the 50 kilometer marker.
This group included stage-one winner, Cory Wallace and his Kona teammates Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks, as well as Pau Zamora (Team Buff), Carter Hovey (Team MBC Racing p/b Orbea-SMP), Mongolian rider Tuguldur Tuulkhangai, and Razif Salleh and Marcel Hagener of Team Chiru-WTB.
After the second rest stop at 90 kilometers, Wallace, Wicks, Sneddon, and Tuulkhangai were able to break away and get a significant gap on the rest of the field. In the end, it was the Mongolian rider, Tuulkhangai, who won the stage, followed by Wicks and Wallace.
The sun is still shining at day´s end as athletes settle into camp life in the Undur Sant Uul Mountains.